Chakma-Hajong issue may turn Arunachal tense again

Chakma-Hajong issue may turn Arunachal Pradesh tense again

National People's Party, an ally of the BJP-led government in Arunachal Pradesh said the door for Chakmas should be closed

Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu. Credit: PTI File Photo

Major students' bodies and political parties have extended support to the Arunachal Pradesh government's plan to relocate over 65,000 Chakma and Hajong refugees out of the state while asserting that any step against the decision would be dealt with firmly.

Organisations representing the Chakmas and Hajongs, however, said the same would be "unlawful" and against humanitarian beliefs given the fact that the Supreme Court in 2015 had asked the government to give citizenship to the Chakma/Hajong refugees and rehabilitate them in the state.

All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU), which has been demanding the expulsion of the Chakma and Hajongs for decades said that the announcement by Chief Minister Pema Khandu on August 15 and later by union law minister Kiren Rijiju was "historic" and was a step forward to end the "demographic threat" posed to the ethnic communities in the state.

"People of Arunachal Pradesh will never allow the Chakmas and Hajongs to live in the state. They are illegal migrants and were settled in the state without the consent of the local people. When they were brought between 1964 and 1969, their population stood at 14,000. But now officially their population has increased to over 65,000. But practically, it will be more than a lakh. Local communities like the Singphos, Khamti and Thangsa, whose population will be between 7,000 to 30,000 have already been outnumbered by the Chakmas and Hajongs. As a result, the local communities are facing an identity crisis," AAPSU general secretary, Tabom Dai told reporters in Itanagar.

"Even the Chakma and Hajongs have also been demanding a solution to the issue but now when the government is taking a decision, they are trying to disturb the process saying that they would not move out of Arunachal Pradesh. Some leaders of Chakmas, who are living and well-settled in Delhi are making some confusing statements as they are unaware of the ground reality," he said.

The Chakmas or Hajongs were settled between 1964 and 1969 in Bordumsa-Diyun and Kokila area in Changlang and Papum Pare district following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (present Bangladesh). But tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh have been agitating for years against their settlement. The issue had also triggered tension and violence in Arunachal Pradesh several times.

National People's Party, an ally of the BJP-led government in Arunachal Pradesh said the door for Chakmas should be closed and they must be rehabilitated outside the state.

"More than 90% of these people were born here and are citizens by birth. They will live and die here with dignity and honour and cannot suffer through another mass migration to start life afresh outside Arunachal Pradesh," Chakma Rights and Development Organisation said recently.

Suhas Chakma, founder of Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) submitted a memorandum to PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, Rijiju and others asking why Chakmas cannot be given citizenship in Arunachal Pradesh as the same was given to Lisus and Yubins community, who had also migrated in the 1960s.

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